Okay, we all know that parents differ a lot in their styles and behaviours. We all have different tools, styles, and beliefs. But one thing that always resonates with parents is a good metaphor.
So, I would like to share this article written by Tracy Moore on jezebel.com. Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles who writes funny but helpful articles.
Here’s a great parenting metaphor compliments of Moore:
…managing a toddler is a lot like running a section of four tops at your average chain. That’s because your average restaurant customer is a lot like a toddler — demanding, impatient, needy as hell and possibly constipated — only you really, really like them anyway. And just like parenting, you don’t really find out how good of a job you did until the whole thing’s over.
Here are some of the author’s “realizations” that I really liked:
Meet and greet in under two.
As my pediatrician recently remarked, “Think of a toddler as an extremely narcissistic person.” This has been, hands-down, the best parenting advice I’ve received so far. If your toddler were an acquaintance at a party, it’d be like you walking into the room and having them stand there waving HELLO HELLO HELLO like an idiot until you finally acknowledged them. Restaurants typically train their servers to greet your own little narcissists in under two minutes for this very reason: the difference between a little drink order and nothing is a Grand Canyon of prevention in the free meal wars.
Stay away. No, come back. Now go away.
Toddlers don’t know what they want, and neither do hungry people out for a meal on the town. They think they need you, and they do, but just for long enough to feel like they’ve been served, catered to, cared for, fawned over, satisfied. Then they want you to go to the f*&k away while they vacuum up a spinach and artichoke dip app, looking up only long enough for you to refill their diet coke and bread basket. That goes for the restaurant customers too.
At one restaurant I worked at, I was trained to “sizzle” everything on the menu on command. “Tell me more about the mozzarella sticks,” someone would actually ask. “Stuffed with mouthwatering cheese, they’re then deep fried in a delectable mixture of”— “OK, I’ll take those.” Likewise, you will sizzle the sh*t out of everything you want your toddler to partake in. Medicine: “It’s squishy-wishy pink sparkle surprise!” Broccoli: “Look at these tasty yummy little fun trees!” Naps: “You’re drifting off to the forest of Wookamazoo.” Whatever it takes, people. Whatever it takes.
My observations: Moore is right about “sell the sizzle”. The number one way to influence someone (including a child) is to help them imagine connect a massively pleasant emotional state to whatever it is you’re offering. And if you are starting out with an unpleasant connection that needs to be changed, the answer is found in a technique called “reframing” (discussed in more detail in the Talking to Toddlers audio course).
For further reading, you might want to check out Using Distraction to Change the Focus of Behavior in Children and Three Year Old Behavior.